Why did the gaggle of Jewish teens cross the road? by Caleb Bromberg

To get to the other camp! This past weekend was our Orr Shalom High School Retreat: a spirited, hilarious, and meaningful weekend of learning, praying, laughing, and fun.! Almost the entire youth board was in attendance as well as several involved teens and the theme they came up with was “Jews In Comedy.”

During Friday night services, Rabbi Gellman set the stage perfectly with a D’var Torah about how in storytelling, including jokes, the punchline is almost always a “callback” to something set up earlier in the story. With that framework in mind, our teens were off and running, creating countless in-jokes crafted on-site that were returned to again and again over the course of the weekend, building a comedic and spiritual community from scratch.

Not only that, but our board members created and led programs about Jewish themes in everything from “Curb your Enthusiasm” to Saturday Night Live (SNL), and we especially investigated antisemitism in comedy and the use of Jews as comedic props when making jokes about minority groups. Each night ended with many, many rounds of “Quiplash,!” a game where you (the players) are prompted to write a silly answer to a question and then answers are pitted against one another for points.

Not everything was a joke, though. Co-Vice Presidents of the board, Sander Brissman and Aidan Rappoport, wrote and delivered an outstanding D’var Torah on Shabbat morning about Jacob, our biblical forebearer and how his character is deeply human and relatable. And one participant, after volunteering to lead everyone in Birkat Ha’mazon, the prayer after meals, noted that he didn’t go to a Jewish camp, but learned how to lead the longer Shabbat version of the prayer just from going on enough Temple Sholom retreats over the years!

It was a weekend of learning and laughing at the fore. It was such a delight to be able to sit back and empower our teens to self-direct and shape a deeply rich and wonderful retreat experience from the ground up. Next up…FAMILY CAMP! Our JK-4th Grade students and their families will have their very own retreat experience from January 24th-26th. Can’t wait to see some of you there!